The workplace has changed a lot since 1922. That year The Journal of Personnel Research debuted, rebranded later as Personnel Journal and finally Workforce. Now in our 97th year, we take a look back at what was on the minds of past generations of people managers.
All About Ethics, March 2004
It was 15 years ago when Workforce Management introduced a new Optimas Award category.
Ethical Practice (which has since morphed into Corporate Citizenship as an Optimas category) became a thing that year. Considering that the corporate landscape had been wracked by massive scandals the previous three years involving Enron, Worldcom and Freddie Mac, to name just a few, celebrating companies that did business the right way came none too soon. The winner of that first Optimas Award for Ethical Practice was aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. Ron Covais, then a VP of business development, became something of a celebrity after rejecting “an inappropriate request for payment” (i.e., a bribe) from a foreign customer and immediately withdrew his company from bidding on a project, helping to highlight Lockheed’s commitment to ethical standards.
A separate story headlined “Clean Slate” told of the redemption of another corporate bad boy. Tyco International suffered a scandalous affair but began a revival with the help of the new senior VP of HR, Laurie Siegel, who was described as a “48-year-old straight arrow,” was tasked with establishing a corporate-governance and compensation systems and controls.
Unfortunately one Optimas winner that year was destined for a date with corporate scandal. Wachovia was the Optimas winner for Service. Four years later it was embroiled in the subprime mortgage meltdown. If only they had paid attention to Lockheed’s ethics.
— Rick Bell
Tech Shortages and the Space Race, February 1963
Frenzy surrounding tech worker shortages isn’t something unique to modern-day Silicon Valley. During the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy stressed that “one of the most critical problems facing this nation” was the inadequate amount of talent with tech skills, according to the 1963 article “Use of Scientific and Engineering Brainpower During This Decade.”
Author William G. Torpey, a consultant to the federal government’s Office of Emergency Planning, laid out eight different national and global trends that impacted the U.S.’ increased need for tech talent. These trends included the country’s defense buildup, recent United Nations programs and the manpower needs of the Peace Corps. Most notably, however, Torpey stressed the role tech talent would play in placing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. A NASA official had recently said that the organization was actively recruiting 2,000 scientists and engineers at the time.
This issue of Personnel Journal also included “The Employee Bill of Rights,” which argued that employees have the right to know a detailed job description of their position and the minimum, midpoint and maximum salaries for their job. “The major reason for this lack of knowledge is many companies are still operating under the mistaken idea that giving salary information is dangerous,” the article stated.
— Andie Burjek
Also in “From Personnel to Workforce”: